My Serie A Stag: A Halloween Bus Ride, Il Capitano’s Favourite Dinner & A Gary Medel Goal

San Siro Inter Fans

This halloween five of my friends, my brother Paul (my best-man) and myself set out from Edinburgh to Milan for my stag do. The primary objective was to enjoy ourselves and importantly for me to catch my first ever live Serie A game.

I grew up watching Italian calcio, I’d watch Channel Four’s Football Italia show religiously every weekend.

The San Siro was always a stadium that attracted my interest. It looked magnificent on the telly and when I visited Milan previously, a few summers ago, I walked around it and was stunned by it’s visual grandeur.

So when we were discussing possible stag destinations Milan topped my list. The good thing about Milan is that you get a greater chance of seeing a game as both AC Milan and Inter Milan call that stadium their home.

Thankfully the last weekend in October had thrown up a great fixture, with Inter entertaining Roma. A win for Inter would see them leapfrog their opponents into top spot in the Italian league table.

But before the football, we had to get to the San Siro first and that proved to be no mean feat.

Firstly our Easyjet flight was delayed by twenty minutes but we should still reach Milan’s Malpensa airport and be on a bus by  6pm local time. So that would give us two hours and forty-five minutes to drop off our bags and get to the stadium with our basic printed tickets. I only mention the tickets because I love old fashioned tickets that you keep in a shoe box.

As we arrived at passport control my cousin Douglas looked worried, he then stated ‘Oh no I’ve left my passport in my bag and they took it to the hold!‘. We reassured him that all he could do was explain to passport security what had happened and they’d deal with it. As he got closer to the desk Douglas said about the guard ‘He doesn’t look happy!‘.

I wondered how much time this would add to our journey and whether or not they’d let Douglas out without an interview. Thankfully this was Italy and not the States. Security told him to stand aside while they checked everyone else’s passport. The rest of us went round to baggage reclaim as a few of the other boys had also been told to put their bags into the hold.

Within ten minutes Douglas had rejoined the party, got his bag and showed off his passport to the now grinning security officer.

We were all in a jovial mood as we made fun of Dougie and headed to the bus stop.

A bus was sitting there ready to depart. We handed over our money and stuck our bags in the compartment underneath, thinking that it would be only fifty minutes before we hit Milan city centre.

How wrong could we be?


As we approached the busy Milan city centre streets after leaving the motorway, we could see that the traffic was building up.

Then the bus driver (It may have been his first day or he may have had a few vinos) took a left. All the passengers noticed that this was a very narrow one way street. But who questions a bus driver? Well everyone just moments later.

As the bus neared the end of the road, we signalled to turn right. Again it looked tight, but the Italian driver thought it was Ok. It really wasn’t.

Inside the next minute the bus totally crushed the drivers side of a small Fiat car that was excellently parked on the narrow street. Horns erupted and cars going in all directions came to a stand still.

We then waited, for what seemed like an eternity, as all the drivers and passers-by had a very vocal chat about the incident and what to do next. I don’t think I’ve seen quite as many hand gestures as I saw at that moment. Thankfully the driver who’s Fiat had been near destroyed didn’t return to assess the damage nor did our driver leave a note apologising for the incident.

We seemed absolutely stuck. We were at the end of a long one way street and couldn’t make the turn that our bus driver desperately wanted to make. We could’t leave the bus as our bags were in the wee hold underneath and the passing traffic weren’t going to stop for us that’s for sure.

Then suddenly a marvellous small woman passenger decided she’d seen enough. She instructed the bus driver to reverse down the one way road and she would guide him.

She got out and then went to the back of the bus, and like Moses and the red sea, the traffic seemed to make way just for us as the bus slowly reversed down this now all too familiar narrow street as an angel told cars to stay out of our way.

There was a hairy moment when the police sped up behind our reversing bus but instead of stopping us they just mounted the pavement to pass us!

The lady managed to get us all the way up the street and back in the right direction. She returned to the bus and received a deserved round of applause.

What a star!

We finally made the bus station at 8pm local time. We had forty-five minutes to reach the San Siro.

We decided to split up. My brother, Douglas and Scott would drop off all the bags at the hotel and then head for the stadium. They got a taxi at the bus rank, from what looked like a local guy just out to make extra cash for the night. We really feared we’d never see them again!

The rest of us (Cheesy, Froggy, Hodge and myself) went to the Metro station. After sussing out the system we boarded the right train and ended up outside the ground with about fifteen minutes to spare.


Froggy decided to get himself a scarf and spent a good five minutes picking one. In then end he went for a yellow and blue number. It was only after purchasing it did he realise he’d actually picked up a child’s size… The plonker.

Our seats were in the heavens and we finally climbed all the stairs and entered the arena. It was a huge majestic sight and one I’d dreamed of for so long.

Then as we kicked out four dodgy looking characters who obviously liked the look of our seats more than their own, we noticed that the other three had actually beaten us to the stadium. Turns out their taxi/random driver knew every short-cut imaginable.

The crowd was fierce and the Inter ultras behind the goal put on a great display. To be fair the travelling Roma fans weren’t quiet either.

The game itself was enjoyable. Roma had a fluid looking attack and created chances. Edin Dzeko missed a guilt edged sitter in the first half. While Inter Milan goalie Samir Handanovic produced three world class saves, one after the other, to keep a clean sheet.

Inter grew more into the game as it went by.

Then after thirty-one minutes we got a goal and from a very unlikely source. Solid defensive minded Chilean Gary Medel scored his first ever Inter goal after his long shot skipped past Roma’s Wojciech Szczesny.

The stadium erupted and the home fans were so pleased to see Medel chuffed to bits with his goal.

It was like a fairytale Serie A match for me. I might be mad, but I adore the fact that my first Italian domestic match finished in a stereotypical 1-0 result.

One of the biggest differences I noticed between this game/atmosphere than one you’d expect from a British game, is the fact that the supporters are so appreciative of the defensive duties carried out by their team. They applaud every single tackle and interception. They celebrated Handanovic’s three save combo as if he had scored a winner. It was amazing!

After the game finished and Inter were declared the winners, we set off in search of some dinner at around half ten at night.

First off we had to negotiate the Metro again, where we lost Hodge after he decided to embark on a heavily congested carriage that no one else fancied. Thankfully we all met up at the right station.

Finally we found a ‘Mozzarella Bar’ (Yeah who knew?). And ordered pizzas. A few of us then went out for drinks and as typical Glaswegians we found a place that sold Tennents Super!

In our only full day in Milan we all did they tourist stuff like visit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the Duomo.

We managed to find time to stop at a cafe and pretend we were James Richardson with our orders of coffees and ice creams. Obviously we were constantly fuelled with some beers.

I managed to purchase a Bologna strip. I’ve since been asked ‘Why Bologna?’ (A lot). Well I like Bologna and it’s a top that is so hard to get in the UK.

Me at the Botinero

In the last evening I really wanted to visit a restaurant called ‘Botinero‘ as it received good reviews and is owned by Inter legends Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso. This stag-do had a big theme!

As you walk in you are almost blinded by the array of football memorabilia that dawns the reception area. Any great footballer of my generation seemed to have had signed boots on the wall.

Most of the lads ordered steaks and all of them said they were fantastic.

I ordered the Argentine veal and the server announced that this was ‘Il Capitano’s’ favourite dish on the menu’. I can state it was the best veal I’ve ever eaten.

The item on the menu that cause most eyebrows to be raised was the ‘erotic potatoes’ which turned out to be fancy crisps.

The boys

I have to say a huge thank you to all the boys for coming. I had always wanted to do my stag in Italy and take in a Serie A match and I wasn’t disappointed. It was simply fantastic.

A a lot of credit has to go to Paul as he did a superb job organising it all and for keeping calm when all seemed lost. The fact he can speak Italian was a huge bonus!

Grazie Amici!

Can Romelu Lukaku Cut It At Higher Level?


Everton’s main striker Romelu Lukaku has been in tremendous form so far this season. The Belgian has bagged an impressive nine goals in his thirteen English Premier League appearances.

Recently his ‘super-agent’ Mino Raiola stated an agreement was in place that Everton wouldn’t stand in the strikers way of a big move as long as the Merseyside club were well compensated.

As soon as Raiola mentions the possibility of one of his clients leaving his current club you can bet your bottom dollar the agent is already sounding out potential suitors.

Now Romelu’s current scoring record (47 goals in 97 games) is enough to get teams interested in him.

But doubts remain regarding the Belgian international hitman performing at a higher level.

See I think Lukaku may have found his perfect level at Goodison, which by the way is a very good one.

Yes the big man has a nose for a goal but the bigger sides that challenge in Europe and for domestic titles like their frontmen to do more than just score.

In this age, the elite clubs are fearful of carrying players. They want forwards who can press, hound defenders and/or work back when needed too. They also see a huge value in possession and want the attackers to hold up the ball and keep it.

These are qualities that the twenty-three year old Romelu Lukaku has so far failed to incorporate into his game.

Lukaku didn’t look great at the World Cup in Brazil. His overall play was’t deemed good enough by Belgian coach Marc Wilmots. More often than not he was on the bench watching young Divock Origi taking his place in the team.

Look at Man United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea. They are teams micro-managed by bosses big on discipline. They want forwards who are all-rounders. That may upset the fans but these managers won’t be shifted on their positions. Plus can we really argue with them? They are winners more often than not.

Jose Mourinho was critical of Lukaku’s attitude when he left Chelsea for Everton in the summer of 2014. Would he be convinced that Lukaku is now a changed player and man? I doubt it as it might be seen as Mourinho admitting he made a mistake in the first place.

Man City already have an expensive striker in Wilfried Bony who had a proven record of scoring in the Premier League but alas hasn’t been that great for the Citizens. Would they risk making the same mistake twice?

I doubt Arsenal would pay a huge transfer fee on a player that hasn’t already done it in the Champions League or in a championship winning team. I also doubt any Italian side would pay a big fee for him.

A team like Real Madrid already have a player in Cristiano Ronaldo who is the only one worthy of not defending at the Bernabeu and Romelu Lukaku isn’t as good as Cristiano!

I suppose the only side I can realistically see taking an interest in him would be PSG. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Raiola moving Zlatan Ibrahimovic away from the French capital for one last sizeable pay day and then Mino would simply position Lukaku under the noses of the Qatari’s who own and run PSG.

But would PSG see the Toffees frontman as being that star they always believe they need? I’d expect them to go for a bigger name. Maybe they’d go back to Lukaku if they couldn’t get one of their main targets.

Plus lets not forget Everton in all this. Raiola said the Toffees would do a deal at a ‘fair price’. But what would be seen as a ‘fair price’? Who determines what’s fair? The player, the agent or the club? They could all have different definitions of the word.

Look at how Everton dealt with the John Stones transfer saga. They rejected very large bids from Chelsea for the England international. It was also reported that they did the same with Seamus Coleman and they’ve previously acted the same way with Leighton Baines.

So what would they value a prolific striker who has cost them £28m?

I’d suggest at least £40m and that could again put off potential suitors.

So all in all, I think Romelu Lukaku may have found his level at Everton as the top teams could be unwilling to take a huge gamble on a player viewed as just a prolific goalscorer.

SPFL Should Kick US Game Into Touch


So Dundee have proposed that they take on Celtic in the United States next season, instead of at Dens Park. It’s been reported that both sides are up for the idea and it’s just down to the SPFL now to rubber stamp the initiative.

I really can’t see the point of this.

Our domestic game needs to be improved for our own fans before we look at taking it abroad.

Are Dundee fans being taken for granted?

They may only be scheduled to play Celtic once at Dens Park before a split and then they may not be involved in the same group after the said split. They are only down to play the Glasgow side at home once this season as it stands, so that could be the same next season. So that would mean that the home fans would not get a chance to see their side take on the best team in the league that year. Surely that would see the season ticket prices heavily reduced at Dens for the 2016/17 season.

Plus who is to say that Dundee will be in the Scottish Premiership next season? They are seventh in the table at the moment and are only five points away from the dreaded play-off position.

Also could Dundee’s season survive with the distraction and travelling needed for this one?

Now I can see the appeal in having Celtic play in America but will there be much of an appetite to see Dundee in the States?

Is this just a case of other SPFL members using Celtic as their gravy train? That’s very not innovative. 

The games profits will probably be split with the rest of the Scottish Premiership sides, the SFA and the SPFL themselves. You might not be able to just renegotiate all of your TV deals for a one off gamble game.

Although people will want to see the Scottish champions would they also want to see a team that they have no clue about? Look at the last three games that these two have played each other; 6-0 Celtic, 5-0 Celtic and 2-1 Celtic. Those games hardly ooze appeal! It’s certainly not the El Clasico we are talking about here.

Major League Soccer currently have big name players like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley. So can a domestic Scottish game compete with that?

Will the money on offer be that great once you factor in the many costs? How much will the tickets cost?

The market place is tough when you consider the fact you might be battling with the likes of the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, MMA and/or more.

The fixture has to be placed at a precise time between August and April that means that the two teams can have time to travel without too much fuss. You have to factor in the two domestic cup competitions and Celtic’s possible European adventures.

Plus the match would need to be ratified by both the American and Scottish federations and also by UEFA and FIFA. That is a lot of hurdles to overcome and red paper to break through.

Listen I want the Scottish game to improve and become better but surely that starts at home. We need our clubs to listen to their current fans first before they try and mug off fans in another country!

We need to look at the best ways to coach and encourage our young players as everyone would benefit hugely in that.

Our twelve team league format is very stale now and the top flight teams need to stop using Celtic and/or Rangers as the bread winners and up their own game and believe in a fresh competition involving a sixteen team league.

I just can’t see the point in flogging this boring, woeful horse that most domestic fans aren’t proud of to another continent.

I’d prefer to see our clubs look at ways to gain more fans through their own turnstiles rather than try and fob off foreign supporters.

If this game could provide clubs enough funds to lower season ticket prices or the like, then I’d be happy to support it. But it won’t.

It’s just another short term plan to inflate those in the top division rather than make our game the better for all.

Praising Claudio Ranieri And Leicester City


I could rewrite history and say that I always believed that Claudio Ranieri would be a success at Leicester City and could guide them to safety this season. That’s one bonus of having your own blog.

But that would be a lie and actually devalue this blog. After all I am not the tabloid press!

I, like many others, openly mocked the Ranieri appointment. I just thought it was an ill-fit and the Italian would return to his tinkering ways that we all saw at Chelsea and at Valencia. He was always a nearly man. His last managerial stint before his return to English football was a disastrous spell with the Greek national team.

Last season Nigel Pearson worked wonders in keeping the Foxes in the English Premier League with a great last few months. I thought his removal would work against Leicester.

Another key man in Esteban Cambiasso left the club in the summer. The veteran Argentine midfielder was a leader on the park and lead by example. But unfortunately he couldn’t be convinced to stay on for this term.

So all in all I thought it would be a bleak season for the Foxes and I predicting that they’d end up finishing in the relegation zone come May.

Well I couldn’t have been more wrong and I am delighted to say that.

Ranieri has come in and showed belief in his current crop of players. They have responded by going from strength to strength. They haven’t lost in their last six domestic league games and they’ve won five of those.

Now the Foxes lead the pack in the Premier League after thirteen games. They’ve gathered fourteen points more than last seasons champions Chelsea!

The players have responded to Ranieri’s trusting nature and his positive attitude. He’s managed to make them an exciting team to watch that consistently pick up points.

No team in England’s top flight has scored more than Leicester’s twenty-eight goals.

Twenty-eight year old forward Jamie Vardy has been in sensational form so far in this campaign. Against Newcastle United in the past weekend Vardy scored in his tenth league game in a row, equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record. He’s scored thirteen in thirteen games this season, that makes up 46% of his teams goals in the league.

The striker is a bit of a throwback to a different generation where players work their way up the leagues and peak in their late twenties. His form has merited a call-up for the English national team and he now looks to be a good bet to get a spot in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad next summer.

Vardy links up well with those around him, he’s also a hard worker and willing runner who can receive the ball in the channels. He’ll also work back and can hold onto the ball when he need’s too.

Jamie has been helped by creative winger Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian has also been in sensational form and can change games with his electric pace, clever feet and his pinpoint passes.

Mahrez has scored seven times and importantly has created six assists (Only Mesut Ozil has created more).

Both of these players have now been linked with big money moves away this January but I doubt Ranieri will sanction a sale at that time unless its absolutely crazy money.

N’golo Kante arrived this summer in a £5.6m deal from Caen without much fanfare. But the twenty-four year old Frenchman has seamlessly fitted in at the King Power Stadium and has done a lot in filling the gap left by Cambiasso. Kante is a determined character, who will hunt down the ball all game given half the chance. His performances have been fantastic and he’s helped give the Foxes a strong engine room.

According to Kante there is even more to come:

“I realise I still have a long way to go and there is plenty of room for improvement to become a Premier League player.”

Obviously those three have done well and deserve all the plaudits that they are getting at the moment. But the whole club and even the fans deserve the credit.

Getting to the summit of the Premier League is a job for a strong squad, not just because of a few outstanding stars!

You also have to look at the work the coaches have done along with the manager to help keep this momentum going. Plus kudos for the board for hiring Ranieri and supporting him with funds.

Also a huge well done to the scouting team at Leicester City. They’ve managed to pick out some real gems and it’s all coming together now.

This Saturday they welcome second placed Manchester United. It will be a huge game for the East Midland’s club but they wanted be daunted by the task and will give it there all against the mighty Red Devils. That seems to be the Leicester City way under Claudio Ranieri.

But they need to be wary of being to gung-ho, that was their undoing when Arsenal came to town and beat them 5-2 in September.

Whatever happens on Saturday, it won’t make or break Leicester City’s season.

Do I think the Foxes will win the Premier League title or even finish in the lucrative ‘Top Four’?

No I don’t but maybe the Leicester City supporters and players will be happy to hear that because they’ve done well in proving me wrong so far this season!

Celtic’s Board Forget Where The Club Came From!

Celtic Park

Today Celtic held their AGM and it wasn’t very amicable as the clubs board seemed to ignore valid pleas from the fans/shareholders.

I admire a passionate bunch of Celtic fans who’ll always make these meetings uneasy for the board as they demand that Celtic are run in a more socially ethical way.

For years, supporters have demanded that the club become a living wage employer.

But yet again Celtic’s board decided to ignore the calls and keep with their minimum wage policy of £7.95 instead of introducing the living wage of £8.25.

It has been mentioned that if Celtic were to introduce the living wage then it could cost the club an extra £2k a week.

For a club the size of Celtic that isn’t a hard target to meet (if that £2k figure is true).

They could raise the price of season tickets by around £3 and that would cover the yearly cost of the rise.

But why should the fans pay the price? They already fork out enough in my opinion.

Last year Chief Executive Peter Lawwell received a £400k bonus on top of his £500k a year wage. That £400k bonus could cover the wage rise of the club’s poorest employees for at least three and a half years. Why he receives such a huge bonus when the club hasn’t moved on in the last few years is beyond me.

You could also find that extra £2k a week if you cut the player budget.

Celtic just signed up Carlton Cole. The former Premier League striker can’t play in Europe at the moment and it’s doubtful Celtic will still be in the Europa League beyond Christmas. They don’t really need Cole to win the Scottish Premiership, so maybe they could have been better served not signing him.

It increasingly looks like Scott Allan was only signed to get one over on Rangers. That seems particularly reckless considering the Blue half of Glasgow aren’t direct rivals at the moment and probably won’t be in the near future.

Then you look at a player like Derk Boerrigter. The pretty Dutchman is paid handsomely to sit on the treatment table and not play due to persistent injuries. I’d argue that those paid £7.95 an hour deserve their wage a lot more than Boerrigter and yet they seem unimportant to the head honchos that run the club.

You then get to the situation that Celtic have a Tory peer in Lord Livingston on their board. The same Lord Livingston voted for a cut in tax credits earlier this year.

In his defence of Livingston, Celtic chairman Ian Bankier stated:

“Our fans come from every quarter of society and share the common bond of supporting the team.”

While this is true and no one is suggesting that Lord Livingston stop supporting the club, his political stance flies in the face of the clubs ethos in which they were formed in 1888.

Celtic were an institution that was embracing of all of society and made serious efforts to help the poor and those that needed their help the most. The funds raised by the club and its founding father Brother Walfrid directly helped the poorest and those deprived in Glasgow’s east end.

Could you see Brother Walfrid sharing a room or a chat with Lord Livingston after that tax credit vote? I doubt it! (Obviously that’s just my opinion).

A special mention should be made regarding the Celtic Foundation as they do follow the values and foundations in which the club was built on.

Now when their is a huge vocal part of your fanbase calling for someones head, then it makes total business sense to rid yourself of the problem. They’d easily sack a manager if he came in for the same amount of criticism. Yet it looks like Lord Livingston will be voted to remain on the board.

That’s the problem here, Celtic’s board don’t really care about the supporters as long as they keep buying enough tickets and merchandise to help promote the bonuses in which the club’s highest earning personnel decide that they have ‘earned’!

Those two particular changes that a vast amount of fans have asked for wouldn’t cost Celtic a huge amount of money but it’s an old ‘Bhoys’ act that runs this club and they only seem to look after their own!

Betting The Ballon d’Or: Who Is The Greatest Player Of 2015?



Few honors in sports carry the international clout as the Ballon d’or – which recognizes the top soccer player in the world. This award has been dominated by two men in recent years: Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi won four Ballon d’or trophies (2009-2012) and Ronaldo has swept the past two years with a Player of the Year honor also coming in 2008.

Will 2015 be any different? The award isn’t handed out until January, so there is plenty of time for an underdog to push their way into the conversation. Here’s a look at the front runners – and their odds – to win the 2015 Ballon d’or before you make any sports betting picks:

Lionel Messi (1/6): 

The price is high on Messi, who despite missing most of the club season with a torn MCL did enough work before the injury to garner the favorite spot. He opened 2015 with a turnaround in La Liga, teaming with Luis Suárez and Neymar in a star-studded attack to carry Barcelona to the league title. He followed that with a Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League title, making Barca the first European team in history to win the treble twice. He finished with 58 goals in 2014-15 and had six in nine games before the knee injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo (5/1):

At this price and with Messi missing a good part of the 2015 campaign, Ronaldo could be the most live underdog on the planet. The Real Madrid superstar has some notable records on his resume this year, including his 500th goal for club and country as well as becoming the all-time leading scorer in Champions League play, pushing ahead of Messi with 80 goals to his rival’s 77. Ronaldo has eight goals in 11 apps for Real Madrid this season, and has them second behind Barcelona in the table.

Robert Lewandowski (14/1):

It would only make sense that the one player being compared the Messi and Ronaldo the most is the third overall favorite on the Ballon d’or list. The Bayern Munich star helped lead the club to another Bundesliga title at the beginning of 2015 and has exploded for 14 goals in just 11 apps so far in the 2015-16 campaign – giving him a total of 31 goals in his 42 games since coming over from Borussia Dortmund. However, inner turmoil with fellow Bayern star Arjen Robben has prompted plenty of transfer rumors, including a move to Real Madrid to team with Ronaldo

Spurs Man Dele Alli Could Be England’s Next Euro Star!


You can get moments in a football match when everything else goes out the window for just a second. After the tragedies in Paris last Friday night, football needed a magic moment to show that it’s business as usual for the world’s greatest game!

It was fitting that last night’s friendly at Wembley had a moment that showed it can still create some joy even in the darkest of times.

The fact that the whole stadium respected the French national anthem and even the home support tried to belt out ‘La Marseillaise‘ was a great gesture and showed solidarity within the game.

But the goal from England youngster Dele Alli was hugely significant in my opinion. It showed that we carry on and enjoy the game as best we can. Last night was never going to be about the result but we may have glimpsed at a new Three Lions hero!

I’ve been extremely impressed with Alli this season.

I remember watching MK Dons boss Karl Robinson talking about him last year. He was buzzing about this talent and stated he was virtually ready to step up and shine in England’s top flight and break into Roy Hodgson’s England set-up.

Now many a manager in the lower leagues has come out with similar statements to inflate the value of their players, but there was something about Robinson that day that suggested he wasn’t talking bull and he truly meant what he was saying.

From that moment on, I kept and eye out for MK Dons and especially watched out for their teen sensation.

The midfielder looked like a man playing with boys at times in League One. He also seemed very assured and composed when he had the ball. Those are key qualities for any youngster to possess at that early age in their development. At that level he was bullying opposition midfields and was also scoring for fun.

Then it was announced that during the final day of the winter transfer window that Tottenham Hotspur had completed a deal to bring the young lower league star to White Hart Lane. The original deal saw Alli stay with MK Dons on loan for the rest of the season, where he helped them secure promotion to the Championship. He also secured the Football League young player of the year award.

A lot of eyes where on the nineteen year old at the start of this campaign. How long would he have to wait for his chance? Was he ready for the Premier League?

Well he answered those questions straight away. He’s only missed one league game this season and has started in eight of them! In those thirteen games he’s impressed and has managed two goals.

The nineteen year old is full of energy and he likes a tackle. He’s also got a keen eye for breaking up play with vital interceptions and that helps his side build up more attacks.

He was particularly strong against Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City, showing he has no time for reputations, its’s all about playing his own game and getting results in a Spurs jersey.

Obviously there is still room for improvement but that will come with age and more top flight experience.

The fact is that Dele is at a perfect club that will help his development and allow him exposure to show off his skills. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has a fine history of giving youth a chance and getting the best out of them.

His strong and bright start for Tottenham this season, didn’t go unnoticed with England boss Hodgson who picked him in his last Euro 2016 qualifiers in October. He obviously did enough to convince the England management team to take him seriously and play him from the start against the French.

He once again repaid the faith shown in his ability. He was the man of the match against Les Bleus and his goal showed him at his best.

Alli won the ball in the engine room with a thunderous tackle. He would get the ball back off Wayne Rooney, before hitting a screamer past his club colleague Hugo Lloris. 

A new international superstar may have just been born last night at Wembley.

Roy Hodgson said this about Alli’s impact after the game:

“It was as close to a faultless performance as you can get,”

Many speculated on who might step up and takeover the dynamic midfield role, that’s been vacant since Steven Gerrard retired from international football after last years World Cup. Not many would have been looking at England’s third tier for the answer.

But Dele Alli has shown that he has all the attributes to stake a claim to make the plane for next summers Euros and I wouldn’t bet against him going to France and bossing a few games and coming back a big star for his country!

My Interview With Betting Runner


I recently did an interview with Betting Runner, discussing my life as a blogger and more.

Feel free to take a look HERE.

Four Crucial Premier League Fixtures Before Festive Period

EPL Title

With the international break ongoing, now is an ideal time to take a look at the Premier League campaign thus far. There have been several surprises already this season – most notably from teams who play their home games in blue – Leicester City and Chelsea. Who would have envisaged that former Stamford Bridge boss, Claudio Ranieri having his new charges in such a lofty position in early November, while the current Premier League champions – and pre-season title favourites Chelsea – are languishing inside the bottom six!

It is a well-used cliché, but there are no easy games for any team in the top flight of English football, and with around six weeks until Father Christmas arrives, here we will look at four games that could have major implications on title aspirations, easing relegation fears, hopes for European places or even avoiding the managerial axe over the coming months.

Chelsea vs. Norwich, Saturday 21st November, 15:00 GMT kick-off.

Make no mistake, this is a vital game for Chelsea – and in particular, boss Jose Mourinho. After seven defeats in just 12 league outings this season, the Portuguese manager has to be under severe pressure from the Stamford Bridge hierarchy to return his team back towards the upper echelons of the Premier League. An indication of Chelsea’s slump is that new-boys, Norwich City are currently sat one place and one point above the Blues in the league standings. With respect to Alex Neill and his team though, this is a game that Chelsea should win – and with something to spare. However, if the Canaries manage to get anything from Stamford Bridge this Saturday, then the knives will surely be sharpened further for Mourinho’s axing.

Leicester City vs. Manchester United, Saturday 28th November, 17:30 GMT kick-off.

Last season’s fixture between the two teams at the King Power Stadium saw eight goals, and quite frankly, one of the most bizarre games in Premier League history. United led 3-1 with around thirty minutes left, but the Foxes stormed back with four goals and along with United defender Tyler Blackett’s dismissal they achieved an amazing comeback. During that campaign, Leicester spent time at foot of the Premier League table, but this season has seen new manager Claudio Ranieri transform his team from strugglers, to European place contenders at least. United’s arrival will be a stern test though, and this game will help to give a solid bearing on Leicester’s hopes for the months ahead. Louis van Gaal’s team must keep Premier League top-scorer Jamie Vardy in check if they are to prevail in this fixture.

Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa, Saturday 19th December, 17:30 GMT kick-off.

Whilst there are still four games and 12 points to play for before these two sleeping giants of English football take the pitch, this game can be classified as a relegation battle with both teams currently sitting inside the bottom four. Newcastle are in the slightly better position of being fourth bottom, and can take comfort from their most recent 1-0 win at Bournemouth. Aston Villa recently sacked Tim Sherwood, and replaced him with Frenchman Remi Garde who oversaw his new team battle for a 0-0 draw against league leaders Manchester City. This fixture is likely to be very important for both teams, and whoever comes out on top will give their fans some extra cheer before the festive period.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City, Monday 21st December, 20:00 GMT kick-off.

The final game of the Premier League campaign before Santa shows up sees a title clash between two heavyweights at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal and City are currently locked on 26 points after their opening 12 games, and it is likely that this fixture will be as tight as the league table suggests. Both teams are beset with injuries at present – most notably Arsenal – who are missing the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bellerin, while City are missing their goal scoring talisman, Sergio Aguero. Hopefully most of these players will be available for this fixture to give fans and viewers alike a feast of football until the Premier League returns on Boxing Day.

Man United Need To Step Up Chase For Wingers Mahrez Or Mane!

Man United

Louis van Gaal will be happy that he has transformed Manchester United back into Premier League title contenders within his second season at Old Trafford.

But the veteran Dutch manager knows only too well that his squad are still missing a few key ingredients that can help sustain that challenge until the season ends in May.

One big problem has been finding that electric winger who can terrorise opposing full-backs with their lightening pace.

Angel Di Maria failed to settle with the Red Devils, he didn’t buy into Van Gaal’s philosophy and was gone after a season. One time United prodigy Adnan Januzaj has been loaned out to Borussia Dortmund after he too was found wanting by disciplinarian Van Gaal.

New big money signing Memphis Depay has the potential but at the moment he’s failing to realise that potential and has been placed on the sidelines by his tough taskmaster.

That has meant that Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have recently been deployed as the United wingers.

Mata lacks the true pace needed to become a great Man Utd winger like a George Best, a Ryan Giggs or a Cristiano Ronaldo. Youngster Lingard is improving all the time but can the twenty-two year old change the biggest of games in United’s favour? That remains to be seen.

The fact that United’s management team have fielded pacey striker Anthony Martial out on the wing, shows that it’s an area that still concerns the United boss.

In the past week Louis van Gaal made it clear that he still thinks the wide positions need more reinforcements:

“I have said already in my first year many times we need speed and creativity on the wings.”

“So first we must first finish that problem and then we can see how we have to play and how we are in balance with playing with speedy wingers.”

Two players have really caught the eye in the Premier League with their outstanding performances and could be the answer to Van Gaal’s pacey wing problems; Southampton’s Sadio Mane and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

We already know Mane has caught the eye of United scouts, with a Man Utd bid of around £15m rejected late on during the summer transfer window. It’s believe that they would have to bid closer to the £30m mark to stand any chance of prising him away this January.

The attacker enjoyed great success with the Saints last term and has continued to find great form during this campaign. He as scored three times so far after eleven Premier League starts and has also produced four assists.

Although he’s been mainly used as a number ten by Ronald Koeman, the Senegalese international can operate on either wing. He likes the ball at his feet and run and take on defenders. Also confident and draws in a lot of fouls. Lacks discipline at times and that may worry Van Gaal.

Mahrez has been a superstar for the Foxes this year and has helped propel them into the top four at the moment. The Algerian has helped his teams cause with an astonishing seven league goals and five assists.

Playing with a real swagger at the moment and with confidence that will have impressed someone like Van Gaal.

Another wide-man who can play on either flank but has been starring out on the right-handside this term and that could be useful if Lingard continues to improve on the left or Depay can comeback stronger in the second half of the season.

Has that searing pace that Man Utd have often lacked under Louis’ tenure, has a great cross on him and also likes to take on  opponents with a dribble or ten!

Manchester United are often a side that takes a chance with players from the English league and I can’t see why they wouldn’t take a punt on either of these two gems.

Obviously if United choose to bid for either of these two stars then they will come with a hefty price tag but Man United are a team that can afford to pay a big fee, especially on talent that could make them serious title contenders!

Out of the two which one would I go for?

Well Riyad Mahrez has been simply outstanding this season, seems to be improving and is the younger of the two.

But in all honesty I think either would improve the current squad at Old Trafford but wont be easy to get as neither Southampton or Leicester will be in a hurry to sell!